Thursday, December 5, 2019

People in Metro Vancouver want more transit, especially in the Fraser Valley

Yesterday, TransLink released the results of its phase one engagement report for Transport 2050. Transport 2050 is the upcoming update to our region’s long-term transportation strategy. This strategy will guide how we build our transportation network for the next 30 years.

In 1993, Transport 2021 was adopted which is a similar long-range plan. It is essentially built-out, or the last components of the plan under construction. The biggest change to that original plan was the switch of high-capacity transit from King George/104th to Fraser Highway in Surrey.

Transit vision from Transport 2021 which was adopted in 1993. Select map to enlarge.

To help inform the creation of Transport 2050, TransLink engaged in a significant public feedback program which resulted in some 31,682 people completing a 6-part questionnaire and/or submitting ideas. As these public engagement results may not have necessarily represented all people in our region —some groups of people may be over- or under-represented— TransLink also commissioned a polling firm to ask the same questions, weighting the responses to be more representative of our region’s people.

So, what do people think about Metro Vancouver and its transportation system?

Well, the most submitted idea was to expand transit in the Fraser Valley. This is good news because it confirms what I and others in the South of Fraser have known for a long time; there is a pent-up demand for transit service in our communities.

When asked why people live in their neighbour, the top four responses were because it was:

  • Near transit
  • Close to shops and amenities
  • Near my family and community
  • More affordable

When asked about what we should prioritize as a region in the future, there we two response that received more than 50% agreement:

  • Expanding and improve the transit system
  • Increasing housing choice and affordability

As the region changes, I’d most like us to prioritize. Blue = TransLink public engagement, Orange = Weighted Poll. Select image to enlarge.

Expanding highways, which just get jammed up with traffic a year or so after being expanded anyway, is not a priority for people in our region.

To view a summary of the feedback received, please view the full phase one report. As I stated earlier, this feedback will be used to help create Transport 2050 which is due to be completed at the end of 2020.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Latest news on SkyTrain to Langley

Is the SkyTrain really coming to Langley? This is a question that I get asked from time to time, and the answer is yes. While funding is currently only available to build the extension of SkyTrain to Fleetwood today, work is actively underway to secure the funding required to get the line built to Langley.

Map of proposed SkyTrain extension to Langley. In two stages. Select map to view.

One of the first steps to securing funding is to complete the business case to build SkyTrain to Langley. TransLink management is providing an update to the TransLink board later this week, including the latest updates on expending SkyTrain along Fraser Highway.

Full Scenario: King George to Langley City Centre Fleetwood Scenario: King George to 166 St
Scope 16 km
8 stations
55 vehicles
7 km
4 stations
25 vehicles
Ridership 62,000 in 2035
71,200 in 2050
39,900 in 2035
44,200 in 2050
New transit trips 24,000 in 2035
30,000 in 2050
12,000 in 2035
14,000 in 2050
Benefit cost ratio 1.24 1.12
Capital cost* $3.12 billion $1.63 billion
Annual operating cost† $32.4 million $17.0 million
Annual fare revenue† $21.3 million $10.2 million
In-service date 5.5 years fromproject approval 5.5 years fromproject approval

Work done since earlier this fall includes:

  • Completing a corridor geotechnical investigation program
  • Completing a reference case design
  • Completing studies to support the project environmental screening review
  • Completing risk workshops, risk analysis and industry market sounding to support assessment of procurement options
  • Initiated briefings with senior government on elements of the draft business case
  • Advanced negotiation of agreements with Surrey, Langley City, and Township of Langley
  • Advanced Operations and Maintenance Centre (OMC) programming and site assessment analysis
  • A second round of public engagement

The business case for this SkyTrain extension will be completed early next year. Once the business case is signed-off, formal funding agreements will be drafted with the federal and provincial governments. Once complete, an 18-month procurement process will start for building SkyTrain to Fleetwood, followed by a 4-year construction, testing, and commissioning period.

The federal and provincial governments have pledged their support for the Mayors’ Council transit vision which includes building SkyTrain to Langley. The missing funding to build to Langley is the regional portion. The Mayors’ Council will need to figure out the right combination of property tax, gas tax, and/or development charges to complete their full transit vision which includes SkyTrain to Langley. I’m optimistic that they will be able to sort this out next year.

* Year of expenditure, costs for project completion to Langley will increase the longer construction is delayed
† 2019 dollars

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Solutions to reducing homelessness in Langley City

Addressing homelessness is a serious challenge not just in Langley, but in communities throughout BC. Cuts to critical government programs in the early 1990s is one of the reasons why homelessness is on the rise today. The good news is that we know how to reduce homelessness, and all levels of government are starting to act. Find out what this means for Langley City.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Building a Walkable and Transit-Accessible Community: A First Look at Langley City’s New Concept Land-Use Plan.

As I posted about last week, Langley City is in the process of updating its official community plan. This plan, and accompanying zoning bylaw, will guide development in our community for decades to come. With fast, frequent bus service launched this fall to Langley City along Fraser Highway, and SkyTrain in the works, we have an opportunity to rethink how our community grows.

People's hopes and fears about the future of Langley City. Select picture to view.

Metro Vancouver data says that our region, and our city, will continue to grow. If we continue with “business as usual” development patterns, we will end up with more motor vehicle traffic and more congestion. If we choose to build a walkable and transit-accessible community, we can keep traffic at bay, while building a happier and healthier community.

After an intense one-day workshop, a concept land-use plan was created. This plan is all about making a walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible community.

Langley City really consists of two different development patterns today: the more urban north of the Nicomekl River, and the more suburban south of the Nicomekl River.

The concept land-use plan embraces these two different patterns to ensure that the character of our community isn’t fundamentally changed.

Concept land-use plan for Langley City. Select picture to view.

The location of the SkyTrain stations are known. Within a 10-minute walk of these station, the concept plan calls out creating transit villages with high-density mixed-used buildings that would support residential, retail, and office uses. Radiating away from the SkyTrain stations, the density and mix of uses would reduce.

Should high-density housing be built near SkyTrain in Langley City? Select picture to view.

Because there is little to no green space in the northwest section of Langley City, the concept plan calls out the need for new park space.

Along Fraser Highway, the concept plan seeks to replace the current strip mall land-use pattern with a transit corridor land-use pattern such as like Burnaby Heights.

There would be no change to our industrial land base nor the Langley Bypass. Along Glover Road and Logan Avenue, the plan is to support high-tech businesses with uses such as light industry, retail, and office. This area would be transformed to be more walkable and bikeable.

The Fraser Highway One-Way would maintain its form and character as our downtown core.

South of the Nicomekl River, the concept plan seeks to add small-scale coffee shop/corner store retail at key locations to help support creating a more walkable community. Because 200th Street and 208th Street will be high-quality bus corridors in the future, the concept plan would allow 3-storey or lower ground-oriented townhouses or du-tri-four-plexes along these corridors.

The areas near the Nicomekl River would be aligned with the proposed land-uses called out in the Nicomekl River District concept plan.

The concept plan also calls out the opportunity to added granny flats or carriage homes in the form of “invisible infill” to the area south of the Nicomekl River bound by 200th Street, Grade Crescent, and 208th Street.

There would be little to no change in all other areas south of the Nicomekl River.

An open house was held on Thursday to get people’s feedback on the concept plan. There will be future opportunities to submit your feedback about the concept plan online. I will post this link when it becomes available.

Based on feedback received from the community and council, the concept plan will be refined.